Teammates recount Medal of Honor nominee's courageous actions
June 10, 2011
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, June 10, 2011) -- Three teammates of Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Petry recently discussed the event that took place May 26, 2008, which landed the noncommissioned officer a nomination to receive the Medal of Honor.
On the day of the event, Petry's squad was entering their target building to secure clearance when an exchange of gunfire with the enemy began.
Petry was alongside Sgt. Lucas Robinson at the time they were attacked. Both Rangers received wounds from gunfire and found cover behind a chicken coop.
Sgt. Daniel Higgins, a team leader, then arrived at the chicken coop to assess the wounds of Petry and Robinson. While he evaluated their wounds, a grenade thrown by the enemy landed near the Soldiers and wounded both Robinson and Higgins.
Shortly after the grenade exploded, Staff Sgt. James Roberts and Spc. Christopher Gathercole entered the courtyard, and moved toward the chicken coop.
Another grenade then landed within a few feet from Robinson and Higgins. Seeing the danger his fellow Rangers were in, Petry risked his life to secure the live grenade and throw it toward the enemy.
The grenade detonated as Petry threw it, causing amputation of his right hand, but saving the lives of Robinson and Higgins.
Roberts and Gathercole then engaged the enemy. Soon after, Gathercole was fatally wounded.
"Initially there really wasn't a whole lot of report on what was going on with enemy contact," said 1st Sgt. Steven Walter -- one of Petry's teammates. "After the initial exchange of gunfire, I did get a call from Sergeant Petry requesting my assistance inside."
Another teammate, Sgt. 1st Class Jerod Staidle, also received a call from Petry and went to his aid.
"As I entered into the west side of that compound, that's when I saw Sergeant Roberts dragging Specialist Gathercole in," said Staidle. "I went up to him asking what the situation was. He told me that we had four Rangers wounded. I asked where Sergeant Petry was, he pointed in the direction."
When Staidle arrived at Petry's position, he found him sitting propped up against the chicken coop wall, holding his right arm up with a tourniquet Petry had applied himself. Staidle asked him if he was able to walk. Petry replied saying that he was unsure and that he had been shot in both legs.
With the help of Higgins, who was also wounded, Staidle was able to move Petry to the casualty collection point, where his wounds were treated by medics.
Once treated, a helicopter landing zone was established, and the casualties were evacuated from the area.
"We started checking on and putting pieces and parts of the story together," said Master Sgt. Reese Teakell. "That's when Sergeant Higgins made reference to Sergeant Petry saving our lives and the things that he did."
The three teammates all agreed that Petry is very humbled and honored in receiving the Medal of Honor award.
"I remember thinking to myself that I wasn't surprised that he had just done what he had done, just based off of his character and what I had learned about him over the past few months," Staidle said.
"The one thing he did state to me after the fact was that if he had time to think about it, he wouldn't have used his right hand," recalled Walters.
Walters also expressed that Petry plans to continue his Army career.
President Barack Obama will present Petry with the Medal of Honor July 12, 2011.